This 1,122-square-km (433-square-mile) park along Rwanda's northeastern border with Tanzania is the safari scene's best-kept secret. You can experience prime safari lands without the Land Rover wagon circles that surround wildlife in Kenya and Tanzania. The borders encompass a labyrinth of lakes and papyrus swamps teeming with hippos and crocodiles, plus savannas dotted by giraffes, zebras, elephants, and nearly a dozen varieties of antelope.
Originally established in 1934, Akagera has weathered a tumultuous history. The park lost half its territory and all of its lions in the wake of the 1994 genocide. Now, however, the park has experienced a rebirth. Nonprofit African Parks partnered with the Rwandan government to spend approximately US$10 million on restoring the country's only protected savanna environment. Lions will be reintroduced in 2015, and the park already has a new thatch-roof reception center, a café, and a luxury tented lodge. It also offers camping facilities, guided game drives, boat cruises, and fishing trips. Akagera is still off the main tourist circuit. If you're seeking solitude and a one-on-one experience with nature, it doesn't get better than this.